ANDREW HAMPP, Nueva York
It\'s rare for a pop star with 13 years\' worth of success to truly hit her stride in her career\'s second decade. But then again, most pop stars aren\'t P!nk.
After scoring her second and third No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 in the last four years ("So What" and "Raise Your Glass," respectively), stealing all the buzz from the 2010 Grammy Awards with her suspended performance of "Glitter in the Air" and shattering Australian tour records with her highly successful (and acrobatic) Funhouse tour in 2009, P!nk was at a career high by the time she took a well-deserved break to give birth to her daughter with husband Carey Hart, Willow, born in June 2011
So when it came time several months later to plot her sixth studio album, "The Truth About Love" (RCA, Sept. 18), the artist otherwise known as Alecia Moore had to give her next move some serious thought.
"I felt like I was in this videogame and I collected all the gold coins and talismans you could collect -- I had to either move to the next level or quit," P!nk, 32, says on the phone from Santa Monica, Calif.\'s Shutters on the Beach resort. "There\'s this whole techno takeover going on right now that just does my head in, and I knew I didn\'t want to do that. I\'d rather dance around and sing goofy songs."
And indeed, "The Truth About Love" is an ideal showcase for P!nk\'s playful side as well as the pop-rock edge she\'s honed on recent albums with producers like Butch Walker, Max Martin and Shellback, all of whom return. New to this project are Greg Kurstin, who produced and co-wrote lead single "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" -- a top 10 Hot 100 hit its first week out -- as well as songwriter Dan Wilson (Semisonic\'s "Closing Time," Adele\'s "Someone Like You"), who helped pen the somber yet hopeful closer, "The Great Escape." Also working with P!nk for the first time are Jeff Bhasker (fun., Kanye West, Lana Del Rey) and DJ Khalil (Eminem\'s "Recovery").
The album is also getting a major boost from two brand partners, another rarity for P!nk. In early August, P!nk was named the new face of CoverGirl, the cosmetic giant that most recently tapped Taylor Swift as a spokeswoman and sponsored her sold-out, 69-city Speak Now tour. A print campaign debuts this month, with TV spots set for later this fall.
"We know the women that use our products and P!nk was just perfect for what we want to express," CoverGirl VP/GM Esi Eggleston Bracey says. "When we look at her, she is so energetic and just oozes and radiates with confidence."
Billboard caught up with P!nk to discuss the making of her new album, advice (or lack thereof) for emerging artists and why she\'s yet to face her biggest fear -- her first album.
Billboard: Congrats on being named the new face of CoverGirl. What kind of feedback have you gotten since the announcement?
P!nk: I always read the responses from the fans. It was 99% positive, but I\'ll always have that 1% that\'s negative. And my favorite comment was, "Too bad they can\'t Photoshop the bitch off your face." [laughs] That\'s actually pretty good.
Is it surreal to think your career is at this point right now? Because there was a period after 2003\'s "Try This" and even after "Stupid Girls" in 2006 when your singles weren\'t taking off in the U.S. Was that time frustrating for you?
I never looked at it that way. I was always on the road in the U.K. and Australia, and things were really great over there. Then I got to come home and be left alone. And you know what? It gave me lot of time to create my show and to become a performer. I would go on 22-month tours and work my ass off, and it\'s been the biggest blessing of my life that now I am a touring artist. It got me out of the popularity contest that music can be sometimes and gave me time to hone my craft as a stage performer. I\'m also grateful, and I got to come back and do the Grammys [in 2010]. That was my "A-ha."
That was a preview of the highly challenging acrobatic stunts you performed every night for months on your Funhouse tour. How do you plan to top being suspended by a thin harness and doing death-defying trapeze acts?
I might have to light myself on fire. I\'ve been to Vegas, seeing what\'s the next impossible feat. For a while, everybody had dancers who got to do all the fun stuff, and I was saying to myself, "I can do that and sing." So that was my challenge.
For "The Truth About Love," was it a struggle to get back into writing after you had your daughter, or did it come naturally?
I was calling it an experiment until it wasn\'t an experiment. I had 40 songs and it worked out. I\'m like a faucet -- there\'s nothing going on in my head when I\'m off. I write in a journal and that\'s it. But that first day in the studio just opened up the faucet.
The songs talk about all phases of a relationship, but you must be aware that people are going to hear songs like "How Come You\'re Not Here" and "The Truth About Love" and assume that you\'re having marital problems again.
It\'s funny. I wrote "Family Portrait" when I was 21 and my parents divorced when I was 9, so I tend to hold onto things. I\'m still exorcising some of those demons. And look, I\'m in a relationship that I\'ve been in for 10 years and it\'s never going to be perfect. Carey always jokes, "You\'re always just mad enough at me to write a song." "Yep. Thanks, baby, you\'re my muse."
In addition to CoverGirl, you\'ve got a campaign coming up with Target that includes a deluxe edition of your album and your own commercials. As you were talking with Target, did you discuss its previous donations to anti-gay marriage campaigns? That was something that canceled a deal with Lady Gaga last year given her devotion to her lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans.
I actually didn\'t know about it. What happened?
Target made campaign donations to several politicians, primarily in Minnesota, that oppose same-sex marriage. Lady Gaga brought attention to it, and the company started putting gay couples in its add and started selling gay-marriage-themed products like wedding cards.
Well, that\'s great, then, and shows the power of Lady Gaga. That\'s great that she did that. And that\'s what forgiveness is about. I\'m trying to do that with my family right now. [laughs]
You\'ve gone out of your way to ignore most of your first album, "Can\'t Take Me Home," on your greatest-hits set and recent tours -- but it had three big singles. How do you see that record\'s role in where you are today?
It\'s a huge part of where I am now. It\'s funny -- my best friend, he\'s always like, "When are you going to do \'Hiccup\'? Can we get some \'Most Girls\'?" I try so hard to fit them into my shows and they just don\'t end up making any sense to me somehow. For this last tour I had this whole salsa number to "There You Go" and it was going to be so beautiful but it just didn\'t fit in.
So, you\'ve faced your fear of heights...
But I haven\'t yet faced my fear of my first record. [laughs]